On Wednesday, 28 August, Professor Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor at Australian National University delivered an engaging and timely Lunchtime Lecture titled, The Anthropocene: Rising Risks, Critical Choices.
Professor Steffen, who is a Councillor on the publicly-funded Climate Council of Australia, gave a sobering presentation that showed the impact of human activity on the earth.
“The earth has experienced a temperature rise that goes beyond the envelope of natural variability. No matter what indicator we used, it all swings upwards.” he said.
“This shows that what humans are doing is affecting the stability of the earth.”
Professor Steffen proposes that drastic human activity has pushed us out of the Holocene, and the earth is now in the Anthropocene epoch, an entirely human-created era brought on what he terms the “Great Acceleration”.
“Since the Industrial Revolution of 1950, everything took off, including population and the economy, resource use, as well as urbanisation and globalisation.” he said.
This has resulted in erratic and unnatural weather conditions over the years, including droughts, excessive flooding, fires, storms, as well as the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.
“It is as if the climate is on steroids, and humans are feeding it to the earth.” he said.
“We are pushing the earth into a new, and somewhat frightening geological and biological era.”
When asked what we what actions each individual could take, Professor Steffen called for collective action.
“We must let our politicians know that we care about the climate and push for them to take action on it.”
“On a more personal level, you can talk to your friends, family, neighbours about it. It starts with a conversation.”